Angelique Kerber
6 6

Maria Sharapova
1 3

Tennis

ByTheMinTennis

Morning all! Two grand slam champions remain in contention in the women's draw at the Australian Open. In a couple of hours there will only be one. It's Angelique Kerber vs Maria Sharapova for a place in the 4th round. I'm Hannah bringing you live updates of this blockbuster tie.

Everyone know the reasons for this match up taking place so early in the draw. But based on the way these two have started 2018, their respective low seedings won't last much longer. Kerber has looked back at her best in the opening stages of this season, winning in Sydney and coming through her opening two ties in straightforward fashion.

Sharapova has also looked in good form in January. She reached the semi finals in Shenzhen and also came through her opening two matches in straights. Melbourne Park has been a significant place in both players' careers. Kerber won her first slam here in 2016, Sharapova lifted the trophy in 2008 and reached the final here 4 times. This was also the site of Sharapova's failed drug test in 2016.

We're a bit delayed in getting the night session underway with both the day matches on Rod Laver going very long. In the meantime, Anna has coverage of Novak Djokovic' third round tie with Albert Ramos-Vinolas for you here >> https://www.bytheminute.co/events/6836

Okay then, out come the players. Sharapova edges the head to head 4-3, their last match came in Stuttgart in 2015, where Kerber was the winner in three sets. Their first ever meeting was at this very stage in Melbourne in 2012 - Sharapova won that comfortably.

Here we go! Sharapova to serve. Kerber makes a good return and Sharapova nets her second shot backhand, 0-15. Lovely deep backhand to the corner from Kerber, forces Sharapova long, 0-30. Kerber has started with real intent here, great forehands to both sides, Sharapova dives and goes long, THREE BREAK POINTS...

KERBER BREAKS. Another really solid return, backhand to Sharapova's feet to force the error. Ominous stuff. 1*-0

Couple strong serves, Kerber gets down well to a forehand down the line, forces the error 30-0. Couple forehands down the line, behind Sharapova, 40-0. Sharapova lashes back a second serve return, but a lovely second serve down the middle brings up the hold to consolidate the break. Kerber leads 2-0* first set.

Sharapova moves into the net, but Kerber gets out wide to the pass, Sharapova covers but leaves the court open for the Kerber forehand winner. 15-15. Mishit from Kerber loops up, Sharapova quickly in for the high forehand volley winner. 30-15. Ooh, Sharapova looking for the down the line forehand, juuuust wide. 30-30. She makes it on the next point though!! Kerber has to let it go, 40-30.

Forehand error from Sharapova, deuce. Kerber goes wide on a forehand for AD, but a couple errors from the other side set up another BREAK POINT for Kerber...